Mayor had hopes to become a city; will be divided between two townships
By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer
Election Day saw two Clermont County Villages vote to dissolve themselves. Amelia and Newtonsville will both be divided and absorbed by neighboring townships.
Though both follow a growing number of Ohio villages voting to dissolve themselves, Amelia’s move is unusual because of its size. Previously dissolved villages have had populations around 500. Amelia’s population in the latest census was 5,009.
According to former longtime Amelia resident Shawn Young, because of growing frustrations with the mayor and council of the town, the vote had been in the minds of residents for a few years.
These frustrations peaked in mid-2018 when Amelia Village Council passed a 1% income tax for residents.
The council maintained that this tax was necessary, not only to maintain the village status but also because it hoped the village would gain status of a city after the 2020 census.
In a letter to Amelia residents earlier this fall, Mayor Todd Hart warned of an unknown future in dividing up such a large village.
“No prior dissolutions have concerned the division of a territory between two townships,” he wrote.
The vote passed by a wide margin in Amelia, with 68% in favor of dissolving the village.
Now, Amelia will be divided and absorbed by two local townships, Batavia and Pierce. In the coming months, the current mayor and council will be in a transition phase, working on moving assets and maintaining their police and fire services.
The vote also created an interesting situation for those who were newly elected, incoming Mayor Renee Garber and two council members, Don Gates and Tim Rosser.
In contrast to Amelia, the scenario that unfolded in Newtonsville matched the trend of small villages voting to dissolve.
A shrinking population and rising operating costs resulted in insufficient tax revenues to support the village’s expenditures.
Newtonsville only had a population of 374 people, and the village was running a budget deficit of $112,000 in 2019, which was a cause of concern for many of its residents.
The vote to dissolve passed by a slim 53 votes for to 46 votes against.
Ohio law requires that the village has a population of at least 150 residents and at least two square miles of land, to maintain the status of a village.
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